Physics Week in Review: July 28, 2018

Among this week’s physics highlights: a star orbiting a black hole confirms relativity yet again; how rainbow physics can help self-driving cars; and the physics of drafting in the Tour de France.

Astronomers Confirm Einstein’s Theory of Relativity By Watching a Star Orbit a Black Hole in the Milky Way. An observation decades in the making confirms predictions about how light behaves in an immense gravitational field. Related: By observing a cluster of stars near the hole, they were able to confirm a phenomenon known as “gravitational redshift.”

Two Quarks for Muster Higgs: “Since the big discovery of 2012, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has been accumulating data and making steady progress. Two recent results establish the origins of the mass of the two heaviest quarks”

Baraja’s New Lidar Uses Rainbow Physics to Help Self-Driving Cars See. Instead of relying on a single spinning laser, the prism-based technology for self-driving cars takes advantage of how wavelengths of light arrange themselves.

Liquid Droplets May Help Unravel the Secrets of Quantum Mechanics via Pilot Wave theory.  See also my 2014 article for NOVA’s Nature of Reality blog:  [Image Credit: Dan Harris]

The Physics of Drafting in the Tour de France. Drafting decreases the overall power needed to ride at a constant speed *or* allows a rider to go slightly faster with the same power.

Pizza Physics: Why Brick Ovens Bake The Perfect Italian-Style Pie.

The stiletto heel is the embodiment of post-war material science: “experts agree this particular heel, named for an Italian dagger with which it shares its sinewy shape, could never have been realized without desire, creativity, and steel.”

The Three Things No One Ever Tells You About Teleportation. “First, let me make it clear that I am not satisfied with the level of safety equipment shown in transporter operations.”  Related: Which Movies Get The Science Of Time Travel Right?

Perovskite, a crystalline mineral, challenges silicon’s dominance in solar power.

Researchers unravel more mysteries of metallic hydrogen: new paper “studied the conductivity of metallic hydrogen to further unravel the mysteries of the dynamo effect–the mechanism that generates magnetic fields on planets including Earth.”

There’s A Debate Raging Over Whether Dark Matter Is Real, But One Side Is Cheating. Dark matter feels fake. MOND sounds plausible. What should you conclude?  Related: How do we know dark matter really exists? “I’m not sure what it is that makes it more appealing to break general relativity and say that all these huge observations are wrong, versus ‘there’s a particle we can’t see.”

We might only see time because we can’t think in quantum physics.

“The splash of a drop may be commonplace, but it is still a mesmerizing and fertile phenomenon. When it comes to splashing, scientists are still learning how to predict the outcome.”

Meet the Woman Who Rocked Particle Physics—Three Times. Sau Lan Wu spent decades working to establish the Standard Model of particle physics. Now she’s searching for what lies beyond it.

For a long time we’ve known about ice and water vapor on Mars, and indirect evidence of occasionally-running water. Now we may have found a large saltwater lake underneath ice at the Martian south pole.

NASA’s next great space telescope is stuck on Earth after screwy errors. The James Webb Space Telescope (the “telescope that ate astronomy”) will do some fantastic science if it ever breaks free of Earth’s atmosphere and all the human error.

Big Bang Telescope Finale Marks End of an Era in Cosmology. With the end of Europe’s major Planck mission, researchers are moving to smaller projects studying different aspects of the cosmic microwave background.

Scientists have invented an autonomous flock of drones that think collectively.

Scientists Think These Rare Clouds Inspired ‘The Scream’: “According to a new study, that tumultuous sky could’ve been based on an actual physical observation of freaky
rainbow-hued nacreous clouds.”

Why Do You Feel Lighter at the Top of a Ferris Wheel? It’s because of something called apparent weight, and you can calculate it for yourself.

How Far Could The Eye of Sauron Actually See?

Stephen Hawking’s Mother on Her Son’s Singular Genius and How We Expand the Boundaries of Human Knowledge.

Space Explorer Hayabusa2 Prepares to Land on a Diamond-Shaped Asteroid 900 Meters Wide.

This Is What Michael Collins Did During The Apollo 11 Moon Landing. As astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to land on the Moon, Collins waited in lunar orbit with a load of worry on his shoulders and a vital job to do.

Two Men Allegedly Stole $8 Million Worth of Rare Books, Including Isaac Newton’s Principia.

Why cosmology without philosophy is like a ship without a hull. “in its unique position as the study of the whole of existence, cosmology in particular is full of philosophical puzzles and positions.”

Cosmography Manuscript (12th Century): Wonderful series of medieval cosmographic diagrams and schemas sourced from a late 12th-century English manuscript.

The Poetry of Victorian Science: “In 1848, the mineralogist, pioneer of photography, and amateur poet Robert Hunt published The Poetry of Science, a hugely ambitious work that aimed to offer a survey of scientific knowledge while also communicating the metaphysical, moral, and aesthetic aspects of science to the general reader.”

Leonardo Da Vinci’s To Do List (Circa 1490). “It is useful,” Leonardo once wrote, to “constantly observe, note, and consider.” Buried in one of these books, dating back to around the 1490s, is a to-do list.

Instruments to Make Music With Aliens: Gamma Ray Bells and Gravitational Wave Cellos. Experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats is playing some crazy cosmic vibes.

“Thomas Blanchard is back with another beautiful music video. This one features ink cascading over various shapes underwater”: